parent opinion

'The days are long but the years are short.' 21 parents on the parenting advice that changed their life.

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Becoming a parent means signing up for an exhilarating new path. All too quickly, you’ll find yourself thrown headfirst into things you know nothing about.

And, when we’re in the thick of it – the unsolicited advice never seems to stop.

We’ve all heard the classics – like people telling adults to give their child a jumper because they're supposedly freezing, or restricting screen time for children under two. 

Watch: The Motherish ask our mums what they did that made them feel like they were failing at parenting. Post continues after video.

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But what we don’t often talk about, are the pearls of life-altering wisdom whispered to us when we’ve needed them the most.

Those poignant yet practical gems from a kind hand, delivered in just the right way, at just the right time.

I put out a call to the parenting world for the advice that stuck, and boy did they deliver...

The early years.  

"Kids will honestly eat when they're hungry. This is particularly nice to remember when your child refuses their third meal of the day." – Talia.

"Time goes too fast – blink and they are three. Don’t wish time away even if it’s difficult sometimes." – Jen.

"I know it sounds very cliché, but after hearing "everyone’s child is different" for the 100th time it finally clicked. I realised that just because other people’s children sleep through the night, don’t have separation anxiety, etc – doesn't mean my child will. I need to forget about what everybody else does with their kids and not feel bad about it. Focus on what works for you and your kids, and stop taking advice from other people." – Jacinta.


"When you start working again, only return for three days a week – at a maximum. Kids get sick so much in the beginning, especially when they start daycare. You'll have to take a lot of time off… something I totally underestimated." – Jess. 

"Don’t worry, 2-year-olds are very resilient." – Jackie.

Moving from one to two.

"Twenty minutes of one-on-one time with a parent and toddler each day will fill their love cup." – Casey.

"One bit of advice I got which has been so helpful, is to work with your toddler on their words, so they don't get so frustrated trying to communicate with you. My toddler’s tantrums have significantly decreased as her vocab has increased." – Chris.

When it all feels like too much. 

"During the tough times, remember everything is a phase – and it will pass." – Shreene.

"Ask for help and be willing to receive help." – Crystal.

"Understand that the only constant is change. So corny, but so true. You think you have it all figured out and then sure enough – change is around the corner." – Kate.

"You need to put your own oxygen mask on first. If you’re not taking care of yourself, it will be hard to give your child what they need." – Gill.

"I struggled and still struggle sometimes when I’m trying to clean, do washing, cook dinner, and work. I have to remember to just stop, drop everything and be present with my child." – Mel. 


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The straight-up sensible stuff. 

"Who cares if they eat food from a packet – do whatever works for you." – Jennifer.

"Sometimes, you need to do the best you can. There will be days, where a child watches hours of TV and eats only strawberries, and doesn't wear clothes. On those particular days, you just have to know you did your best to get through." – Bonnie.

"Don’t allow behaviours you’re not willing to endure for the next 5-10 years. For example, allowing your toddler to watch YouTube at the dinner table. Set boundaries with your kids now to create those lasting habits." – Wendy.

"Don’t make any relationship decisions when you’re in a tough period. I could have divorced my husband a few times. When things are tough with our kid – I remember that we aren't the only people struggling. Never make abrupt changes when you're upset." – Alex.

"I would say, accept as much help as needed because doing everything by yourself doesn’t make you Superwoman. I wish I would have followed this advice myself." – Anais.

Image: Supplied. 


And finally, the ones that blew me away. 

"My most helpful tip was from the Parenting Research Centre. Their advice was that parenting should be considered a skill, not an innate ability (which often leads to moral judgement of good and bad parents – and therefore people)." – James.

"Taking a learning mindset to parenting was the most helpful thing for me. So many things felt strange and unnatural when they were new, so I’d just ask visiting friends to teach me." – Pat.

"The days are long but the years are short. It's not very practical advice, and it might not be so obvious with the first child in the early years. But it helps me put things into perspective and find some appreciation rather than drowning in self-pity when times are tough." – Sandrine.

"I always try to remind myself of how important all the small things are. Changing a nappy is important, reading a book is important, answering the same question for the 5th time straight is important." – Catherine.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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